ISA World Masters Roundup

By BASN News Services
Updated: April 7, 2008

PERU — Jamaica‘s Master surfers returned to the island from Lima Peru on Sunday after a grueling week of competition at the 2008 World Masters Surfing Championship where the team finished 10th from the 17 nations who contested the event.

The event saw competition in five divisions. Team Jamaica consisted of Masters Drum Drummond and Eugene Miller, Grand Masters Michael Mair and Nigel Benjamin, Kahunas Billy Wilmot and Pierre Diaz, Grand Kahuna Terrence Muschett and women’s Master Jacquiann Lawton.

17 nations took part in Peru this year as compared with the 13 that participated at the inaugural holding of the Championships in Puerto Rico last year where Jamaica finished in ninth.

This year Jamaica fell one place to 10th, but world surfing giants Australia as well as, Mexico, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago Guatemala and South American powerhouse Argentina were all newcomers to the event this year and of those only Australia and Argentina were able to better Team Jamaica.

“We did put it to Ecuador and The UK, they were ahead of us last year and this year we relegated them to 12th and 14th respectively”, said team captain and president of the JSA Billy Wilmot.

“Brazil who we beat last year put together a much stronger team and finished third this year and those were the teams responsible for our single place slip in the world standings.”

“The waves were huge! They were close to 20 feet at times and the water was freezing! Many surfers from other teams did not turn up for heats on the bigger days. People don’t think about it much but Jamaica’s Surfing Teams are the only athletes who put their lives on the line every time they represent their country!”

Another member of the team agreed adding “Other athletes have to worry about a bouncer or slide tackle which may result in a bad bruise or a fracture. Us surfers regularly stare death in the face in the course of representing our country!”.

Jamaica‘s best performances came from Masters Drum Drummond and Eugene Miller, Grand Master Michael Mair and Grand Kahuna Terrence Muschett who all advanced through the first rounds.

“Overall though, I do believe that we could have done even better than we did.” said Mr. Wilmot. “The conditions were very difficult with large waves and strong currents, conditions that we don’t have very often in Jamaica.”

“The type of equipment used on larger waves are specifically designed to handle those conditions and are not practical for use in smaller surf. This means that we do not get to fine tune our big wave board designs by trial and error. In other words, compared to many other teams, our surfers do not get enough experience in big surf.”

When asked what the team could do to address this problem, Mr Wilmot responded. “Some countries send their teams on training trips where they can practice in different types of waves. This is very expensive and beyond our means right now.”

“We could have tried to get the team to the event a few days earlier to acclimatize themselves but we are talking about people who have their personal lives to manage as well and may find it hard to find the additional time. I think most importantly, top physical conditioning of the athlete has to be the number one priority.”

“Now, at one stage of the event when the waves were upwards of 20′, I found myself thinking about the real possibility of drowning. And trust me, when you’re faced with that scenario your self confidence will wobble. You need to know you can survive the conditions, then your confidence soars!”

“So firstly physical conditioning and then more tailored equipment.”

The Team had the kind sponsorship support of Gold Sponsors Insight 51, Quashi Surfboards, Body Glove Wetsuits, Silver Sponsors Copa Airlines, Sports Development Foundation, Mailpac, and Bronze Sponsors JMMB, which made the venture possible.

The next international surfing event on the calendar for Jamaica will be the 2008 World Junior Surfing Championships in France in May.